More than 6,000 people are now diagnosed with mouth cancer in the UK every year. . Mouth cancer may affect the lip, tongue, gums and mouth. Other sites, which may be associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, are the tonsils and pharynx.
It is now the sixth most common form of cancer and has increased 3 fold over the last 25 years. The number of people diagnosed with oral cancer is more than the number of men and women diagnosed with testicular and cervical cancer combined! Scotland has the highest incidence of mouth cancer in the UK related to higher smoking and alcohol consumption in Scotland.
In the past the disease was mainly confined to men over 50 who were smokers or drinkers. But now a growing number of cases – one in ten – are being seen in people under the age of 45 who don’t smoke or drink heavily. As yet, there is no clear explanation for these cases but potential risk factors could be poor diet, lack of sunshine and the spread of certain strains of the HPV.
Mouth Cancer Awareness Month has been running now for approximately 15 years and seeks to raise awareness of the risk factors and early warning signs. November was Mouth Cancer Awareness Month and once again students have been working hard in partnership with staff at University of Dundee dental school to raise the profile of the condition and awareness of oral cancer within their peer group as well as the wider community.
A range of events took place including a week long lunchtime awareness raising session within the students union as well as an evening table top display within the library (5-9th Nov). Other events organised during Mouth Cancer Action Month were a fund raising acoustic event, organised by clinical dental students Robyn Beggs and Anja Visser and a Cafe Science event where Prof. Ogden gave a talk entitled ‘Drink and be merry for tomorrow….’ in which he explored the issue of alcohol, and how much we know about what we’re drinking. This event involved an interactive (anonymous) quiz session as well as an opportunity for participants to test their accuracy in pouring a unit of alcohol!
Professor of Oral Surgery, University of Dundee
(Editors note: Professor Ogden’s team were awarded the University of Dundee Ian Stevenson Award for Public Engagement with Research in 2012 in recognition of this work. They have also teamed up with The Ben Walton Trust with plans to cascade the events to other Universities in Scotland and the rest of the UK.)
This article was originally published in the SCPN Newsletter Volume 4, Issue 1.
Read the full issue here: